A Patient Man
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart . . . Wait for the LORD, and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land. Psalm 37:4, 34
Have you been waiting a long time for God to fulfill a promise? Caleb waited forty-five years. When the twelve spies had returned from their trip into Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb had encouraged the people to obey God and enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:6-9). But the report of the other ten spies had prompted the people to rebel against God (Numbers 14:1-4). Therefore, God disciplined the Israelites by making them live in the desert another forty years.
In Numbers 14:24, God had spoken to Caleb through Moses and said, “I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Caleb held on to that promise for the next four decades. He and Joshua witnessed the deaths of the rebellious generation. Then they led the new generation into Canaan and claimed the inheritance that God had promised to give them before they left Egypt.
When the Canaanites had been defeated, Caleb came to Joshua and reminded him of God’s words: “Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day” (Joshua 14:12). The land Caleb claimed was occupied by the fierce Anakites—the giants who had terrified the ten other spies so many years earlier. But Caleb was no more afraid of them at age 85 than he had been at age 40. He declared, “the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said’ (v. 12). And that’s exactly what happened (Joshua 15:13-15).
Waiting for God to fulfill His promises is difficult. And yet that is what He calls us to do. Three times the Bible states that Caleb followed the Lord “wholeheartedly,” the English translation of a Hebrew word that means “with complete obedience.” After a lifetime of obedience, Caleb received the inheritance God had promised him.
God has also promised us an inheritance—one that will far exceed all our expectations (1 Corinthians 2:9). Are we willing to live by faith as Caleb did and walk in complete obedience as we wait for it?
Compare Joshua 14:13-14 with Joshua 21:1-3,11-12. What was Caleb willing to do with the inheritance God had given him?
Through Samuel, God told David that he would be king of Israel. David waited many years for God to fulfill that promise. Read Psalm 37. What is David’s advice to all of us who long for God “to do something”?
Ephesians 1:3-19 describes the inheritance that God has promised us. What blessings do we enjoy now as a guarantee that the balance of our inheritance awaits us in heaven?
Paul told the Corinthians that Christians “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And as we wait, “we [should] make it our goal to please him” (v. 9). What can you do today to “live by faith” as Caleb did and bring pleasure to God?
Denise K. Loock